Captain John Sheridan (Bruce Boxlietner) arrives on Babylon 5
in the first episode of the second series, "Points of Departure", which marks the handing over of command of B5 to Sheridan from Commander Jeffery Sinclair (actor Michael O'Hare had become a victim of studio politicians who wanted a bigger star in the leading role). This excellent instalment also reveals more about why the Minbari surrendered to Earth at the Battle of the Line when they were on the verge of victory. "Revelations" explains that Sheridan's wife, Anna, died during an archaeological survey of the world Z'ha'dum, the name being just one of many oblique references to Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings
. "The Geometry of Shadows" introduces the Technomages, characters who featured more significantly in the ill-fated spin-off series Crusade
(1999), while "The Coming of Shadows" proved to be Babylon 5
's finest hour. The story of political intrigue foreshadowing the fate of two of the major characters won the Hugo award for the Best Dramatic Presentation at the 1996 World Science Fiction Convention and proved so powerful that J Michael Straczynski included it in his Complete Book of Scriptwriting
"And Now for a Word" takes the unusual step of presenting a day-in-the-life of B5 seen through the eyes of a TV news crew, just as the Narn declare war on the Centauri. The inclusion of a PSI-Corps commercial paid homage to Paul Verhoeven's satirical ads in Robocop (1987). In "In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum", Sheridan learns that Morden was on the ship on which Anna died, this episode seeing the Captain pushed to his limits by grief and determination to discover why Morden survived. Three exceptional shows conclude the year. The Narn-Centauri war escalates in "The Long, Twilight Struggle", Sheridan faces a most unusual ordeal in "Comes the Inquisitor", while in "The Fall of Night" all hope of peace is shattered as a nerve-wracking assassination attempt reveals a startling secret about Ambassador Kosh.
On the DVD: Babylon 5--Series 2 presents all 22 episodes anamorphically enhanced at 16:9, with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Originally shot with eventual widescreen presentation in mind, the programmes looks far better than they did when broadcast. The effects shots, reformatted from full-screen CGI, show occasional pixilation, but the new compositions are more dynamic than the old 4:3. Always a show with powerful audio, the remixed soundtrack is rich and involving, if lacking in the bass punch and complex layering of much more expensive cinema productions. Extras are an introduction to Series 2 (eight mins) and Building Babylon: Blueprint of an Episode (13 mins), is a perfunctory promotional piece. More interesting is Shadows and Dreams, an eight-minute feature on B5's two Hugo Awards. Three episodes have commentaries, with J Michael Straczynski examining the politics, mythology and production of In the Shadow of Z'Ha'Dum and The Fall of Night, and stars Bruce Boxleitner, Claudia Christian and Jerry Doyle have a decidedly low-brow laugh-fest through The Geometry of Shadows. There is an alternative French soundtrack and subtitles for the hard-of-hearing. --Gary S Dalkin
All the episodes of the second season of the dark and gritty Space Station based drama. In 'Points of Departure', Sinclair leaves the station to travel to the Minbari homeworld to become an ambassador to the old enemies. His replacement is Captain Sheridan, a man the Minbari hate for crimes against their people in the war, so he must make them accept him or risk another war. In 'Revelations', Londo becomes increasingly involved with the ancient race of the Shadows and by doing so orders the death of 10,000 Narns in Quadrant 37. In 'The Geometry of Shadows', some Techno Mages give Londo the benefit of their prescience by foreseeing the effects of his deal with the Shadows. In 'A Distant Star', a freighter arrives at the station from the rim where huge spider-like ships (shadows?) keep appearing and disappearing. When the freighter gets stuck in hyperspace Babylon 5 starfuries are despatched to rescue it, but there is something spider-like in hyperspace as well. In 'The Long Dark' an ancient space-ship is discovered near the station, and its contents create mystery and danger for the Babylon station. In 'Spider in the Web', a fanatical free-Mars fighter is stalking the station killing all who get in his way. When the murderer is scanned by a telepath it is revealed that he is already dead. In 'A Race Through the Dark Places', PSi Corp's Bester returns to try and block the escape route for rogue telepaths. In 'Soul Mates', Londo discovers that he can divorce two of his three wives, but does not know which one to keep. Meanwhile, Talia Winters is visited by a rogue telepath who intends to give her a gift to change her powers. In 'The Coming of Shadows', the five year story arc is furthered when the elderly Centauri Emperor arrives on the station and a group of Centauri nationalists decide that it is Ambassador Mollari's time as Emperor, and Londo uses his links with the Shadows to help his cause. In 'GROPOS', Dr Franklin's father visits the station and tries to resolve their differences even though his thoughts are really on the military manoeuvres that he is organising. At the same time, the station is flooded with GROPOS (Ground Pounders) troops from Earth Force making the running of the facility even more complicated. In 'All Alone in the Night', Captain Sheridan is kidnapped by aliens and subjected to a series of bizarre tests. Meanwhile Delenn is removed from the Minbari Grey Council, a move that may have repercussions at a later date (in series 3, maybe). In 'Acts of Sacrifice', G'Kar asks Earth and Minbari representatives to help the Narn in the war with the Centauri. He finds his position more difficult when a young Narn declares unofficial war on any Centauri on the station. In 'Hunter, Prey', an Earth Force agent arrives on the station chasing a physician who used to care for the late President Santiago. Sheridan discovers that the doctor is carrying evidence that could implicate President Clarke in his predecessor's assassination. In 'And Now For a Word', the day-to-day running of the station is the subject of a fly-on-the-wall documentary made by the Interstellar News Network. In 'There All the Honor Lies', Sheridan kills a prominent Minbari, and his pleas of self defence go unheeded. It seems that militant Minbaris may be plotting against him - the man they call 'StarKiller'. In 'Knives', an old friend of Ambassador Mollari asks for his help, but Londo feels that he must refuse because he will make an enemy of Lord Refa. Meanwhile, Sheridan investigates a supposedly haunted section of the station. In 'In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum', Captain Sheridan breaks the rules when he realises the Morden was aboard the same ship as the one where his wife died. Delenn and Kosh stop him from exposing Morden as an agent for the Shadows, saying that the forces of light are not yet ready for the confrontation that this will cause. This story is one of the most vital in the long-running story arc. In 'Confessions and Lamentations', an epidemic begins to spread through one of the alien races aboard the station. The disease, which is 100 per cent lethal, is related to immorality and therefore a taboo subject. The doctor has to battle in order to save an entire race from the disease (which may or may not have something to do with the Shadows). In 'The Long Twilight Struggle', the Narn attempt to launch a crucial strike on a Centauri supply base, but the Centauri are forewarned and use the help of the Shadows to defeat the attack. This opens up the Narn homeworld to a devastating attack. In 'Divided Loyalties', former Psi-Cop Lyta Alexander returns to the station with news that there is a traitor among the staff. The problem is that the traitor has had their real personality hidden by telepathic techniques and does not know that they are rotten to the core. Sheridan decides to try and find the traitor using scans, but Ivanova refuses to be scanned. In 'Comes the Inquisitor', G'Kar tries to unite the disparate groups of exiled Narns to face off against the Centauri. Delenn and Sheridan have their faith tested by a human emmissary. It is Kosh's way of seeing that the two of them are up to the challenge of the Shadow War. Finally in 'The Fall of Night', Sheridan receives some disturbing news about Earth's standing in the Narn/Centauri situation. Keffer's tape of the creature in hyperspace reveals the existence of the Shadows, the Nightwatch tighten their grip on the station and Kosh leaves his encounter suit to save Sheridan's life.